Benefits of ICD-10 Coding for the Elderly

According to Wikipedia, the ICD-10 is the “10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), a medical classification list by the World Health Organization (WHO). It contains, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or diseases.” In addition, it provides for 14,400+ codes, allowing for “the tracking of many new diagnoses. The codes can be expanded to over 16,000 codes by using optional sub-classifications.”

So how does this impact seniors? According to a report assembled by the John Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, by using this coding, issues that were not brought to light beforehand, now have been. For example, with the coding, it has been revealed that there has been a 42% escalation in falls as a cause of death among the elderly. So what does this mean? The conclusion was that the increase in fatalities was just because there was better coding for death classification that gives the option of additional detail about the cause. It is not due to an increase in elderly encountering more fatalistic falls.

But what is beneficial from knowledge of the increase in falls is the information of how the senior falls. It was found that the greatest increase came from the “falls on the same level” category which suggests the falls were not from furniture or down the stairs. Thus report author Susan Baker stated that: “the findings should not only enforce the importance of accurate coding, but also prompt physicians to take greater precautions against falls among seniors.”

Coalition for ICD-10’s governing board member and Senior Healthcare Policy Advisor for 3M, Richard Averill believes that ICD-10 is a “a fundamental building block in the ongoing transformation of healthcare delivery.” Even though the transition from ICD-9 to 10 was tough, now, it is viewed as “a major milestone in the evolving transformation of our 21st century healthcare delivery system.” It has resulted in “the availability of better healthcare data, which can be leveraged, many believe, to improve patient outcomes and patient safety, lower healthcare costs and move forward with population health.”